You’ll be surprised. There is so much to do at River Point Resort, you may never want to leave the grounds. But, when you do, you will find all of northern Minnesota at your doorstep….
The Ely, Minnesota area is brimming with attractions, festivals, events, activities, and things to do.
Boundary Waters Canoe Area
Giant glaciers carved the physical features of what is known today as the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW). Left behind were rugged cliffs, crags, canyons, gentle hills, towering rock formations, sandy beaches, rocky shores, and literally thousands of lakes, rivers, and streams-all interspersed with islands and totally surrounded by remarkable forests. Located in the northern third of the Superior National Forest in northeastern Minnesota, adjacent to River Point Resort & Outfitting Co., the BWCA is approximately 1.3 million acres in size, and extends for nearly 150 miles along the border lakes of Canada’s Quetico Provincial Park and Minnesota.
This vast area was set aside in 1926 to preserve its primitive character and made a part of the National Wilderness Preservation System in 1964. Thus, with its 1200 miles of canoe routes, 15 hiking trails and approximately 2000 designated campsites, the Boundary Waters offers wilderness freedom to those who wish to pursue an experience of expansive solitude, challenge, and personal integration with nature. In the spirit of the French Voyageurs of 200 years ago, it allows its visitors the adventure of canoeing, portaging, and camping
Let River Point Outfitting Co., adjacent to River Point Resort, outfit your BWCA adventure for several days and nights. Enhance your stay at River Point Resort with several days canoeing and camping in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area wilderness. Do the canoe trip on you own after an informative and educational “Trip Routing & Orientation Session”, or go with a congenial River Point guide.
International Wolf Center
No trip to the North Country is complete without a tour of Ely’s famous multimillion dollar interpretive wolf center facility known internationally for its research and natural history on the timber wolf. Have a “close encounter” with the resident wolf pack as they roam their 1 1/4 acre home at the Wolf Center, playing, eating, sleeping, and tussling with each other. Experience the $1 million “Wolves & Humans” exhibit. Visitors can go on evening howling expeditions or hike to a beaver dam. Presentations, family day programs, enjoying a picnic at the new outside area, and other adventures round out a visit to the center. River Point’s Recreation Program also includes thrilling wolf howling expeditions right on the wilderness shoreline of it’s own Birch Lake-many times Birch Lake is where the Wolf Center guides go for their wolf howling, as well.
The International Wolf Center is located one half mile east of Ely, Minnesota on highway #169, about 10 minutes from River Point Resort. Call 218.365.4695 ext.21 for more information.
Dorothy Molter Museum
Discover the life of a Boundary Waters legend. Dorothy Molter was the last person to have spent her life living in the famous Boundary Waters Canoe Area. Find out how she made her livelihood selling home-made root beer to thousands of canoeists who stopped at her homestead on Knife Lake giving her the nickname “The Root Beer Lady.” While you are a guest at River Point Resort in Ely, you can stop in and visit the Dorothy Molter Museum, enjoy touring the two buildings, viewing movies of her amazing life, and learning more about a woman still today is an integral part of the history of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. The museum is located east of Ely, Minnesota on highway #169 in a beautiful pine-studded setting replicating Dorothy’s homestead amidst the pines on Knife Lake, about 10 minutes from River Point Resort.
Hours: Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day Weekend, Monday to Saturday-10:00 to 5:00 pm. Select open dates throughout the rest of the year. Open days/hours and fees subject to change. Call or visit the website for more information. 218-365-4451; rootbeerlady.com
North American Bear Center
A new educational resource center, the North American Bear Center or Black Bear Center has a vision of replacing myths about bears with reality, and is complete with educational displays, a theater playing the best in bear videos, the Cub Room which beckons kids of all ages, a black bear den that kids can crawl into, and more. The Bear Center is home to three captive black bears living in a forested 2-acre enclosure offering viewing windows from the indoors or the outdoor viewing balcony–both with an excellent opportunity to see both the pond and waterfall areas which the bears frequent. Video exhibits on pepper spray and radio-collaring bears are highly informative and interesting.
Additional videos exhibits feature coastal brown/grizzly bears fishing, clamming, grazing, playing, fighting, and mating. The latest new exhibit focuses on bear sign in several categories–tracks, trails, beds, marking, and scat analysis. Visitors can learn to tell if there are bears in their area by learning to read the signs the bears leave behind. There is something to enjoy and learn about for everyone who visits the Black Bear Center. It is located 1/2 mile west of Ely, Minnesota on highway #169, or about 15-20 minutes from River Point Resort.
Open days/hours and fees subject to change. Call or visit the website for more information. 877-365-7879 or 218-365-7879; bear.org
Operated by the American Bear Association in Orr, Minnesota, the Vince Shute Wildlife Sanctuary is often described as the best place to see wild black bears in their natural habitat, and for good reason. From our expanded viewing deck visitors can learn about black bears by observing their natural behavior. Thousands of people visit the Vince Shute Wildlife Sanctuary every year, to view and learn about black bears, their behavior, habitat needs and life cycles. Visitors also get the opportunity to view a special group of wild bears that come to this location every summer, from an elevated platform.
The Sanctuary is located approximately an hour and 20 minutes from River Point Resort. Encompassing some 360 acres, the Sanctuary consists of a combination of habitats: aspen forests, cedar swamps, marshes, beaver ponds, a primary stream, open meadows and numerous other resources.
In addition to being a seasonal home to a more than 80 bears, this habitat is also used by an abundance of other wildlife including whitetail deer, bald eagles, beavers, mink, pine martens, fishers, timber wolves, red squirrels, bobcats, lynx, blue jays, owls, ducks, songbirds, ravens, and a variety of other species. While black bears are the primary focus, the various habitats of the Sanctuary are managed in a manner beneficial to the entire ecosystem.
Soudan Underground Iron Ore Mine
Approximately 25 minutes from River Point Resort on highway #169 west of Ely, Soudan Underground Iron Ore Mine offer both a Historic Tour and a Physics Tour to visitors. The Historic Tour leads visitors through the world of underground mining. One wear a hard hat and journey down 2,341 feet via a “cage”. the 1 1/2 hour mine tour shifts to a rail car for a ride back into the mine as you listen to the stories of mining days and go to the last and deepest area mined. The mine is 50 degrees year-around, so remember to bring a warm jacket and shoes that provide traction.
Physics Tour: The Soudan Underground Laboratory is the leading deep underground science and engineering laboratory in the US today. Scientists from around the world have been working at Soudan for 25 years trying to answer basic questions about the Universe.
Above ground, visitors can explore the dry house, frill shop, crusher house and engine hours. You may also walk the boardwalk past one of the deepest open mine pits or hike the trails in the park through a northern hardwood conifer forest. There is no state park vehicle permit needed at Soudan Underground Mine. There is a fee to take part in the mine tours. Public tours run from Memorial Day through the end of September. Contact the Park Office at 218-753-7000 or 866-857-2757 for more information or visit the website at mndnr.gov/vermillionsoudan.
Ironworld is the largest museum complex in the northeast region of Minnesota and the largest museum outside of the metro area of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota. Ironworld’s goal is to preserve the rich traditions and customs of the people who immigrated to northern Minnesota from nations around the globe at the turn of the century when the iron mining industry was exploding. You will learn about their lives, the work, the place and the people that populated the Iron Range of Minnesota.
There is a 3,000 square-foot-gallery dedicated to changing exhibits, as well as permanent collections and exhibits. Programs and events, research library, ethnic cuisine, rides in vintage trolleys, spectacular views of open pit mines, and more can be enjoyed and learned about with a trip to Ironworld.
Located about 1 1/2 hours from River Point Resort west of Ely. Follow highway #169 to the city of Chisholm, Minnesota. Admission is $8 for adults, $7 for seniors, $6 for students and free to children, age 6 and under. Call 800.372.6431 or 218.254.7959 for more information. Days, hours open and fees subject to change.
Surrounded by the Superior National Forest, and the glacial cliffs of the Laurentian Divide, the area around Ely is one of the most scenic hiking destinations in the Midwest. The pristine wilderness offers hikers a truly memorable and diverse experience. Whether you’re a casual hiker looking for an afternoon walk in the woods, or an avid hiker, the trails offer something for everyone.
View soaring eagles, enjoy plump, juicy blueberries (mid-July to mid-August), explore rushing waterfalls and scenic peaceful lakes and rivers, or walk through stands of giant white pines that are hundreds of years old. The opportunity to see bald eagles is a common experience here. The area is home to 150+ nesting birds and 40 species of wildlife. Fall is an amazing hiking time with colors aplenty-perfect for an afternoon hike.
Great Places To Hike-in addition to River Point’s own “Trail of Reflections“.
Bear Head State Park
Located halfway between Ely and Tower, Minnesota, a few miles off Highway #169, about 40 minutes from River Point Resort. This 4,500 acre park is heavily forested with pine, spruce, and birch trees and is well-known for its hiking trails and swimming. It boasts 17 miles of hiking trails. The rugged terrain is home to bear, deer, timber wolves, and moose and well as many smaller animals, dozens of species of birds, like crossbills, boreal chickadees, red-breasted nuthatches, and evening grosbeaks. Neo-tropical migrants, that pass through River Point’s property, like the warblers and vireos are also evident. Grab your picnic lunch and make it full day hiking adventure while a guest of River Point Resort.
This trail system is ideal for taking a short hike with small children. It also provides an opportunity for a longer more rugged hike. Located 20.5 miles north and east of Ely–or about 35-45 minutes from River Point Resort, the shorelines of either Blackstone or Secret Lake are a great place to rest and relax. Numerous scenic overlooks ranging from 30 to 80 feet above Secret, Blackstone, Ennis Lakes and several small ponds are interesting and enjoyable for a picnic lunch. Enjoy hepaticas, wood lilies, and more than 50 other wildflowers and shrubs. Black throated blue warblers, and black-baced woodpeckers can occasionally be seen. Bring binoculars to be able to spot beavers and painted turtles sunbathing. Sometimes climbers rappel off the Ennis Lake cliffs, too. Pretty cool!
Bass Lake Trail
This is a “must-do” trail due to its interesting background. River Point’s Naturalist leads hikes to this unique area each week during the summer month. Bass Lake and Low Lake occupy a long narrow basin that glaciers gouged out of pre-Cambrian rock centuries ago. Prior to 1925, the two lakes were separated by a ridge of glacial gravel which acted as a natural dam between the lakes. Logging operation in the area led to the construction of a sluieway to move logs through the gravel ridge from Bass Lake to Low Lake, a drop of nearly 60′. Seepage weakened the sluiceway and in April of 1925, the sluiceway and glacial ridge washed out leaving a gorge 250 ‘ wide. This catastrophe lowered the level of Bass Lake 55 feet in 10 hours. Bass Lake was reduced to about half of its original size and two small lakes, Dry Lake and Little Dry Lake became isolated in the old lake bed. About 250 acres of land was then exposed and available to establishment of pioneer plant species.
Hike through this incredible lake bottom-total trail length is 5.6 miles, and is quite rugged. Sturdy shoes are suggested for the approximate 4 hour hike to do the entire 5.6 miles. River Point’s Naturalist usually leads the group through the first 2 miles or so to a refreshing waterfall with time to picnic and enjoy the panoramic views. Located 6 miles north of Ely, or about 25 minutes from River Point Resort.
Kawishiwi Falls Trail
ALl the waters from the South Kawishiwi River which flow south from the Boundary Waters, and form the east and west shorelines of River Point Resort’s property eventually end up tumbling through the Kawishiwi Falls, located just east of Ely on highway #169, about 12-15 minutes from River Point Resort. “Kawishiwi is an Ojibwe name meaning the “river full of beaver or muskrat houses.” This is surely true, as beaver homes can be observed on the South Kawishiwi River adjacent to River Point. This is a supeb short, easy-to-hike trail close to Ely, with amazing waterfalls. The trail has extremely steep cliffs, so be aware of children at all times. Trail leads to a small, sandy beach area and a new fishing pier. Great to take your fishing rod and reel along. Kawishiwi Falls is a great hiking trail to do in an afternoon combined with dining, shopping and sight-seeing in Ely.
A 4-mile paved trail circling Miners Lake in downtown Ely, just 10-12 minutes from River Point Resort. Hike the full length of this lovely trail through heavily forested areas for a great work-out, or just go as far as you feel like. Either way, it is a most pleasant experience with the opportunity to view Miners Lake from vistas along with various birds and even deer. Being an intown hiking opportunity, it is great to combine it with shopping and dining in Ely, or maybe even a massage after the hike.
Golfing in Ely, Minnesota
We’ve Got 18 Holes in Our Backyard! Don’t forget your clubs. The Ely area has quietly become one of the best areas Up North for golfing enthusiasts. Several courses are close to River Point Resort. From one of the top golf destinations in the world (Giants Ridge Golf Course in Biwabik) to the new Wilderness at Fortune Bay, one of the best golf courses in the Midwest, your stay at River Point allows you to vacation in the peaceful quiet and beauty of Birch Lake, and also experience many of the Ely area courses.
Following is information on four Ely area LINKS:
Ely Golf Course
Ely has a 9-hole, 3,245 yard, par 36 course that is open to the public. The course is open (weather permitting) from late April until late October, seven days a week. Call 218.365.5932. Rental equipment is available. The Ely Golf Course, just south of town on Country Road 21, is just 12-15 minutes from River Point. Take Highway # 1 to Ely. At Central Ave. turn left and continue 1 mile. Open
Babbitt Golf Club
A small course nine holes with one par five and two par threes. Good conditions almost all year with excellent greens. Located on St. Louis County Road 70, just west of Babbitt, Minnesota, about 20 minutes from River Point. Take Highway #1 toward Ely to Highway #120. Continue until it joins #21. Follow #21 right to the Golf Course. 218.827.2603
The Legend and The Quarry at Giants Ridge in Biwabik, about an hour from River Point, are both top-rated courses in the country. Golf week Magazine 2009 ranked The Quarry as #2 top public course in Minnesota; The Legend consistently is rated in the top 100 public courses nationally. For tee times and information, call 1.800.688.7669.
The Legend at Giants Ridge is flat-out FABULOUS golf. With signature holes that will leave you breathless, The Legend is a challenging par 72 that wanders over and through the spectacular north woods terrain.
The Quarry at Giants Ridge is a Minnesota resort course with a style all its own. Enjoy dramatically raised tees and deep hazards which will challenge the avid golfer.
Moose and Deer Watching on Scenic Highway #1
River Point is only 55 miles, or about an hour and ten minutes, west of the North Shore of Lake Superior on picturesque Hwy. #1. Reminiscent of the meandering beauty of travel through the New England states, Hwy. #1 is spectacular for viewing moose, deer, birds, and other wildlife–especially beautiful in autumn. Consider a day trip to Lake Superior’s North Shore when vacationing at River Point Resort. You’ll not only enjoy the scenery, but there are some wonderful hiking trails and dining options to round out your day trip to the North Shore.
River Point Resort is the ideal place to vacation and experience the Ely area Attractions, Festivals, and Events. It’s also a great place to stay during the holidays of Memorial Day, 4th of July, and Labor Day.
2020 Festivals, Events, and Holiday Celebrations
May 18-June 30: Obsessive Compulsive Fishing Support. Great time to fish Birch Lake
May 10: Mother’s Day
May 18-June 30: Lunker Northern Fishing
May 18-June 30: Best Walleye Fishing in shallow waters and currents
May 25: Memorial Day
June 1-20 and August: Best Smallmouth Bass and Crappie Fishing
June 10-Sept 6: Swimming Season
June – August : Tuesday Night Live: approx. 4 pm to 9 pm. Music, demonstrations, Farmers Market at 5:00 pm in Whiteside Park. Fun in downtown Ely. Cancelled due to Coronavirus for 2020
June 21: Father’s Day
June 20: Music in the Park. 7-9 pm. Ely Whiteside Park Band Shell. Cancelled due to Coronavirus for 2020 until further notice
July 4: Old Fashioned 4th of July Celebration in Ely: parade at 1:00 pm, games, food, music, rides in Whiteside Park; fireworks over Miner’s Lake at dusk. Event pending
July 11: Music In The Park. 7-9 pm. Ely Whiteside Park Band Shell. Cancelled due to Coronavirus for 2020 until further notice
July 24-26: 38th Annual Blueberry Arts Festival. Cancelled due to Coronavirus for 2020
August 8: Music In The Park, 7-9 pm. Ely Whiteside Park Bank Shell. Cancelled due to Coronavirus for 2020 until further notice
August 29-Sept. 2: Blues Fest. Cancelled due to Coronavirus for 2020
August-Sept 30: Best Crappie, Northern Pike Fishing; Walleyes in deep water and along drop-offs
Sept 7: Labor Day
Sept 5+: Fall Color Begins
Sept 11-13: 26th Annual Harvest Moon Festival
Sept 26: Ely Marathon and Half Marathon